Maybe it’s because the American Marketing Association’s annual event used to be a research-focused conference. Maybe it’s because of the access to brands afforded by social media. Or maybe it’s just a good idea. Whatever the reason, one of the main themes of the country’s premier annual marketing conferences was engaging with your end users to drive your marketing decisions.

Many of the sessions I attended focused on exactly how that can be achieved. Sure, you can simply keep a close eye on your social media channels and track any buzz through Google alerts, but you’ll be missing out on a large portion of your users.

group-people-talkingMany brands are turning to online panels, where real customers are presented surveys and asked for feedback in exchange for perks and bragging rights. One talk even showed how Ikea’s iconic catalog relied on this type of online community to pick its cover image.

This kind of trend is great news all around. For the customer, you can influence global brands to ensure you get the types of products and services you need. And as a brand, you’re not only gaining invaluable data, but also producing an army of loyal brand ambassadors. In our new social world, that is gold.

So what can you do? Well if you’re not already listening, start. Get on social media, put surveys in your stores. But easiest of all, talk to your customers. You may think you know what they want, but you’ll never be sure unless you ask.


352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.